Belgium’s Queen Paola Suffers Stroke

Queen Paola, the mother of King Philippe of Belgium, suffered a stroke while on a visit to Venice, according to reports in Belgian and Italian media.

Paola, 81, will be repatriated to Belgium by plane on Wednesday, said Belgian state broadcaster RTBF.

Queen Paola has already faced health problems: in September 2015, she was forced to respect a “total rest period” after heart trouble, while in 2017 she broke her hip less than two months after fracturing a vertebra.

A native of Italy, Paola was the queen of Belgium during the twenty years of the reign of her husband, King Albert II, who ruled from 1993 until his abdication in 2013 for their son King Philippe.

Paola is best known to Belgians for importing a touch of “dolce vita” to the Belgian monarchy in the 1960s, before becoming Queen after the sudden death of King Baudouin, Albert II’s brother.

Born Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria, she spent her entire youth in Rome, where she met Prince Albert at the age of 21 at a reception held at the Belgian Embassy on the sidelines of Pope John XXIII’s induction ceremonies.

The Royal Palace in Brussels has declined to comment on the development, saying, “A communication is in preparation.”

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